Why I’m a Liberal

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It’s election season and everyone who reads my wall knows I’m a liberal. Sometimes that comes as a surprise to newcomers, because I sort of fit the stereotypical Republican mold. I’m white, affluent, highly educated, a lawyer/writer (though I’ll note that I was raised in a working class home). I’m also a strong believer in the value of market forces/incentives, like to look at human nature with a cold eye (I see you there, Socialism, trying hard to form an economic system at odds with human nature, which is why you will always fail), and think that (regulated) capitalism is by far the best economic system the world has ever seen, harnessing, as it does, the unending well of individual human self-interest (particularly as it relates to making MOAR MONEEZ). Yet I vote Democratic. Why?

My first order reason (but far from the only reason): Because Democrats generally favor a robust social safety net. And that’s important to me because of the intersection of the safety net with humanism in the first instance, and its intersection with utilitarianism in the second.

Sounds weird, maybe? Here’s how I think about it (note that this is pretty broad; no doubt I could discuss details with my conservative and even-more-liberal-than-me friends at length, but that’s not the point of this post).

Every person is worthy, entitled even, to a modicum of human dignity. That’s axiomatic for me, deriving, as it does, from my humanism. And that means that each person should have a minimum standard of living, insofar as it can be provided. This is especially true of children. And I don’t care if their parents are fuck-ups or lazy or repeatedly make bad decisions. I want those children (and their parents) to live a life that holds a modicum of human dignity. I don’t want them hungry or cold or without shelter or medical care. This is (obviously) where the safety net intersects with my humanism.

Because for me, the safety net represents a direct, and reasonably successful attempt to solve those issues and provide that modicum of dignity. All programs have their problems, of course, but the aggregate amount of good done by Medicaid, SNAP, CHIP, and similar programs, is enormous. That alone would be reason enough for me to favor a robust safety net and therefore vote Democratic. But there’s another, more utilitarian reason.

I think talent (broadly defined) is distributed roughly equally across humankind. There are as many potential doctors and scientists and artists born into material want as there are born into material excess. But whether or not that talent is nurtured and has a chance to blossom is affected to a large degree by whether or not a person’s basic material needs are met. Those born into want, if unmitigated, may never get a chance to express their gifts, because wondering where or whether you’re going to eat today, or wondering where you’re going to sleep tonight, is going to crimp the ability to dream and think and ponder and read. And so I want those material needs met, because if those potential great minds become actual great minds, they’ll benefit all of us with their gifts. And that’s where the safety net intersects with my utilitarianism.

Anyway, take this FWIW. I don’t want this to turn into some partisan discussion. I realize intelligent, well informed conservatives (and liberals) have considered these issues and come to different conclusions. That’s fine. We vote to resolve those differences. I just wanted to share this, is all.

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15 thoughts on “Why I’m a Liberal

  1. Do you think generous entitlements can coexist with generous immigration law and policies? If so, how do we provide both without making our debt even worse? If not, which one do you think ought to go?

    • Your use of the term “generous” would be amusing to citizens in many other Western countries around the globe.

      But to answer: Yes and yes.

      Immigration is a great engine of economic growth and entrepeneurship. More of it would be grand. And hey, more legal immigrants means more taxpayers. Of course, if you’re actually using “generous immigration laws” as code for illegal immigrants, or the non-existent brown hordes who come here to suck at the gov’t teat, well, let’s just say that you and I don’t speak the same language. Adding, too, that illegal immigrants are ineligible for the programs that debt Chicken Littles worry about (Medicaid, Medicare, and SS).

      I’d also suggest that you might want to do some research on the debt. I don’t always feel like educating those who think the sky is falling, but it’s worth checking out if you haven’t. Hint: The sky isn’t falling.

      • Immigration is not an engine of economic growth. That statement may only hold true if the immigrants are highly educated and highly skilled. Although I do find it unethical to welcome in a large amount of immigrants into your country. For one, the simple laws of supply and demand. If you welcome in more workers into your country (add supply while keeping demand constant) wages will surely decrease. Secondly, the jobs being filled by foreigners could be filled by the native population. Thus increasing the % of unemployment.

        Both of these results have manifested in the United States. Our unemployment has skyrocketed and our wages have been stagnant thanks to our open borders policy.

        • The data does not support your view. Immigration is, in fact, one of the great engines of economic growth.

          Your claim about unemployment is also belied by the facts. I’m sure you know the actual rate. No doubt you’re a U-6 truther or think the labor dept shills for administrations you don’t like.

          Wages have been stagnant for reasons that have nothing to do with immigration.

          Please don’t waste my time with more of this.

  2. A better system of welfare would just be a Basic Guaranteed Income. No other way to overcome the welfare trap.

  3. “It’s election season and everyone who reads my wall knows I’m a liberal. Sometimes that comes as a surprise to newcomers, because I sort of fit the stereotypical Republican mold. I’m white, affluent, highly educated, a lawyer/writer”

    This is a description of a stereotypical liberal, not a republican. The Republican Party has been transitioning for some time into a working class party (against the wishes of their leadership), and the rise of Trump is formalizing the change.

    You are advocating in your personal and class interests, and I don’t blame you for it. But lets not put lipstick on a pig and pretend that Hillary is for the workers or anything like that.

    • Matthew,

      It’s clear to me that you’e either a troll or an undergrad who was recently exposed to Marx and Engels and thinks he’s learned something profound. Since you’re Australian, I’ll give you some facts: Republicans have won college educated whites in essentially every POTUS election going back sixty years. This year looks to be an exception. Your claim that Reps are transitioning to a working class party is therefore ridiculous. You further demonstrate a lack of command of basic facts and economic policy if you think that voting Democratic is in my personal and class interests. I could name a dozen metrics on which Democratic policy runs afoul of my personal economic interests (the marginal tax rate on the high end of the tax table, for an obvious example).

      As such, off you go.

      • Well, thanks for banning my IP without even allowing me to reply. Very bad form, sir.

        It seems that the New York Times agrees with me. You read it, right?


        I realize that you think you are a crusader for the working man but that is mere psychological rationalization for working towards your own interests, which are vastly different from the working class. Why do you think hedge funds are funneling hundreds of millions of dollars into the Clinton campaign, and nothing to Trump (less than $50,000).

        • No, it agrees with me. But since your reading comprehension is deficient, I’ll encourage you to re-read my comment, particularly the part that says, “This year appears to be an exception.”

          An exception.
          An exception.
          One more time for the slow: An exception.

          Reps win college educated whites, and have, in every POTUS election going back 60 years. This. Year. Appears. To. Be. An. Exception.

          It’s likely you know little of the U.S. market or its interaction with the political system, so I’ll educate you.

          Hedge funds are funneling money to Hillary for one of several reasons: Trump’s economic plan, such as it is, will cause a recession. That’s bad for markets. Hedge fund managers don’t like that. Trump is unstable and seemingly economically illiterate. Having a President with those characteristics is bad for the market. Hedge fund managers don’t like that. Third, Hillary is likely to win. Hedge funds contribute to winners.

          Once again, I’m assuming you’re behaving intentionally as a troll or you’re stupid. Likely both. Accordingly, I’ll leave your comment above as an exemplar of something stupid. Sometimes that’s useful to others.

          Subsequent comments by you will be simply deleted.

          Run along, Matthew.

  4. I think that was a weeee bit dismissive of Matrthew.

    – – -but just a weeeeeeeeeee.
    He did begin “A better system of welfare would just be a Basic Guaranteed Income. No other way to overcome the welfare trap.”

    – and that point can at least be argued by societal architects wrasteling the substrata of would be world schemes.

    • Shouldn’t the goal of welfare programs be to eliminate themselves? A simple metric would be, the less welfare we need, the better our country is doing. Our welfare programs do nothing but grow, don’t you think this is a bad sign?

      The democrats are at fault because their whole election process in basically promising people free shit, then they do it to keep their voter base voting democrat. I shift some blame to the republicans because of their continued open door immigration policy, although the democrats are even larger advocates of that policy.

      Giving people free stuff in not altruistic my friend, especially when it is not yours to give, it is stealing while simultaneously helping people reach their demise.

      • Brian,

        Suffice to say that I disagree with essentially everything that you’ve written above. It’s ordinary course Tea Party “taxes are confiscatory/theft” dressed up in less obnoxious wording.

  5. I just don’t get the appeal of politics. Its seems theatrical to the point of obnoxiousness now days. The whole thing seems disingenuous. The electoral college…how does a small select group have the power to go against the votes of tens of millions of tax paying citizens? I find that bizarre and archaic. Maybe I’m just misunderstanding this system.

    • You’re not misunderstanding, Mario: it’s simply that nonsensical. The electoral college system isn’t going anywhere, although I deeply wish it would be put down like the sick animal it is.

    • You are misunderstanding the system (in that the electors with almost no exceptions follow the popular vote in the state they represent) but the Electoral College is a dinosaur and should be done away with.

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